Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Our National Game: Early baseball magazines

As with virtually every other aspect of popular culture, the history of baseball can be traced in magazines. While there are a number of illustrations in books in the first half of the 19th century touted to show early images of baseball, the game we know today had is real roots in New York/New Jersey in the mid 1840's when a number of amateur teams began playing each other. The first games were played in Hoboken at Elysian Fields and reports began to crop up in Spirit of the Times in the mid-1850's. If one searches the index of the 1854 volume, there are only four articles, the remainder being predominantly cricket. Within a few years, articles and box scores became quite frequent and the American game was now well established.

I was fortunate enough to find a number of quite interesting and early baseball references in magazines. The May 12th 1855 issue of Spirit of the Times published an early (the first?) version of the rules. The third volume of Porter's Spirit of the Times in 1857 published the first image of the game in an original engraving, here reproduced for your viewing pleasure.

The first magazine devoted to baseball was Ball Player's Chronicle, whose first issue appeared in 1867, two years prior to the establishment of the first professional team, The Cincinnati Red Stockings, in 1869. Before this a number of great images appeared in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper and The New York Clipper. Sports is now one of the favorite areas to collect, unfortunately it is far too commercial and many devout present-day card collectors will find that their investments will have very little demand for them in the future. As I've said: collect because you enjoy it. If someone tries to sell you something "because its a good investment", run in the other direction!

Enough lessons in collecting: Play Ball!

1 comment:

Philip O'Mara said...

Great story.

It’s time to read a great new romantic comedy, entitled Classes Apart.
This is an adult sporting comedy that follows the fortunes of Paul Marriot, the secretary of the Barnstorm Village Sunday soccer team and coach of a school cricket team in Yorkshire, England. The story describes the remarkable camaraderie between the players and supporters of this little club and their desire to achieve success. The team had previously been known more for its antics off the field, rather than their performances on it.

During his time at the club he meets and becomes involved with Emma Potter, who is the sister of James Potter, a major player for their bitter rivals Moortown Inn. Thus, begins an entangled web of romance and conflict. He also begins working at Derry High School, a school with a poor reputation of academic success, where he becomes coach of the school cricket team. Here he develops an amazing relationship with the children and they embark on an epic journey.